SA Tourism targets domestic travellers

29 August 2013

South African Tourism has marked the imminent start of Tourism Month with the launch of a new marketing campaign, combined with various affordable holiday packages, aimed at growing the number of domestic travellers in the country.

Speaking at the official Tourism Month launch at Amazingwe Lodge in the North West province on Wednesday, Tourism Minister Marthinus Van Schalkwyk said South Africa was an exceptional global destination whose tourist arrivals growth consistently tracked higher than the worldwide average.

In 2012, international tourist arrivals to South Africa increased by 10.2% year-on-year, compared to global industry growth of 4%.

However, the contribution, and potential for further growth, of domestic tourism were often underestimated.

Speaking at a breakfast hosted by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Johannesburg last week, Van Schalkwyk noted that at any given moment, three-quarters of all tourists in the country were South Africans.

Addressing the cost barriers

With non-travelling South Africans having indicated that they could not afford to travel or were not aware of accessible offerings, the sector had to work harder to address these information and cost barriers, the minister said.

“Through a partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) we have commissioned a feasibility study for a pilot budget resort chain aimed at an under-served market segment of would-be travellers earning less than R5 000 a month.

“We have also commissioned an audit of underused state assets and properties that could be developed into tourist attractions and facilities.”

The new domestic marketing campaign – dubbed “Nothing’s More Fun than a Sho’t Left” – also tackles the affordability challenge, while seeking to “bring the fun back to travel”.

In a statement on Wednesday, the South African Tourism said the campaign’s television commercials, flighting from the beginning of September, would remind South Africans “that taking a holiday, even for a night or two, gives benefits that endure: great memories, quality time with loved ones, well-deserved escapes from dull routine, and a chance to experience new places, new people and new things”.

The campaign also offers a number of holiday package deals designed, in partnership with South African Tourism’s travel partners, to deliver “fun, easy, accessible and affordable holidays”.

In his breakfast address earlier this month, Van Schalkwyk said that tourism was a vital contributor to the South African economy, contributing more to gross domestic product (GDP) than, for instance, the automotive industry, and sustaining more direct and indirect jobs than the mining industry.

Tourism’s direct contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew to R84-billion in 2011, with the combined direct and indirect contribution making up 9% of GDP, Van Schalkwyk said. At the same time, tourism directly and indirectly sustained 9% of employment in the country, which amounted to one in every 11 jobs.

Shifting global patterns

On the international front, Van Schalkwyk said that while the UK continued to be South Africa’s biggest overseas tourism market, followed by the US and Germany, China was now the country’s fourth-largest overseas tourism market, up from eighth place two years ago.

“In our international market segmentation we recognise that a tectonic shift is under way as economic and political power is moving from the North to the South and from the West to the East.”

He said that while the established markets would remain critical for years to come, the changing contours of wealth and power in the world could not be ignored: it was expected that within two years, inbound tourism to emerging market destinations would exceed that of the advanced economies.

South African Tourism had invested ahead of return in some of these emerging markets, the minister said, and these were now delivering a much greater share of the industry’s income.

In 2012, particularly strong growth was recorded from the Asian market, which saw an increase of 34% in arrivals, and in the Central and South American market, which saw a 37% increase.

“We should still do much more to market ourselves as an emerging economy to established markets, but also to other emerging markets, such as China, that are becoming significant tourism spenders.”

Referring to global air traffic, Van Schalkwyk pointed out that there was major potential for the development of a South-South corridor that would reflect contemporary trade and other economic realities.

“We believe that OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg is ideally positioned to be a major hub on such a corridor, for passengers to travel, for example, from South America to India.”

SAinfo reporter